The Effects of Different Defleshing Practices on δ13C and δ15N of Modern Faunal Bulk Bone Collagen

Author(s): Tessa Plint; Lisa Hodgetts; Fred Longstaffe

Year: 2017


Stable isotope values obtained from modern faunal skeletal material often provide important comparative data in zooarchaeological investigations of past food-web dynamics and human-animal interactions. Unlike archaeological material, modern faunal material requires additional time-consuming preparatory work prior to analysis (i.e. defleshing). Cooking and the application of proteolytic enzyme are quick and effective methods, but it is unclear if these techniques alter original bone collagen isotopic composition. This study explored the impact of four different defleshing methods on the δ13C and δ15N of modern mammalian bulk bone collagen. Mandibles from Castor canadensis carcasses (n=4) were divided into four, and each subsample was subjected to a different defleshing treatment (manual defleshing; soaking in room temperature water; boiling; soaking in water-Protease solution). Three individuals demonstrated negligible (within the range of measurement error) δ13C and δ15N variation (±0.1‰, 1SD) among subsamples subjected to different defleshing methods. One individual demonstrated small, but significant variation in subsample δ13C (±0.2‰) and δ15N (±1.1‰) among defleshing methods. This variability is probably linked to method efficacy and remnant soft tissues contaminating the collagen sample. Overall, this work is a promising initial step towards reducing preparatory time of modern faunal material intended for stable isotopic analysis.

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The Effects of Different Defleshing Practices on δ13C and δ15N of Modern Faunal Bulk Bone Collagen. Tessa Plint, Lisa Hodgetts, Fred Longstaffe. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429121)

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Abstract Id(s): 16253